The December 2007 Podcasting Grant judging is completed! Click here to see the applications from the three Grand Prize Winners!

Here are the grant applications of our three runner-up finalists.

Nathan Toft, A. Lorne Cassidy Elementary School

Stittsville ON K2S 1G8

Lesson Title: Portable Radio
Episodes of Portable Radio are available every couple of weeks. Each episode is around 15 minutes. Our podcast is similar to a variety show you would hear on the radio. It showcases what is going on in our classrooms and what is important to our students. The content is entirely driven by the students. Past episodes have included serial dramas, field trips, soccer tournaments, book reviews, interviews with teachers, student made songs, vocabulary, unusual facts, jokes, and even geology. Our podcast has allowed us to make connections with students in places like South Africa, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Writing for a podcast is authentic writing. Because our students know that there is a real audience listening, it has made them highly motivated to write quality material for the show. It gives their writing a purpose. Producing a class podcast like Portable Radio requires teamwork, enterprise, technical literacy and planning, as well as the skills involved in researching and writing for the podcast.

Now that we are in our second season of Portable Radio and we, as teachers, have a better handle on the technical side of things, we are hoping to use this grant to refine the production process. In particular, this grant would give the students much more responsibilities in producing episodes for Portable Radio.

Here is how we propose to use all the resources provided in this grant:

Tool Factory software - At the moment, we need to work with at least four different pieces of software to write, record, edit, export and upload our podcasts. Tool Factory will greatly simplify this process. Furthermore, having the school license will allow for students to work both in the lab and the classroom. Students will have more opportunities to work with the software as they edit their own segments for the show.

Digital Voice Recorders - The addition of digital voice recorders would be a huge time saver for our production as we use our two voice recorders to record the majority of audio heard in our podcast. It is quite challenging to share two voice recorders with 58 keen students who want to record immediately! Having access to more voice records allows more recording opportunities for more students. We also anticipate that it would improve the sound quality of our shows.

Microphones and Headphones - We are currently sharing one headset microphone with 59 students. Another set would double students' opportunities to record and edit for the show.

Clip Art Station - Students will use this site to get sound and music to incorporate into their segments. Access to this audio will improve the overall quality of our podcast.

At the moment, our website doesn't have much in the way of art and graphics. Students would be put in charge of choosing appropriate images to enhance each episode’s show notes.

Worksheet Station - In particular, the storyboard worksheets and script writing worksheets will be used by students when planning segments for Portable Radio.

Web Page Station - We are reaching the limits of our school's server space. Having another source for storing our audio will help alleviate our concerns.

Tool Factory's Simple Guide to Podcasting - We are constantly encouraging other teachers to get onboard with podcasting. Guides such as this will help us "sell" the benefits of podcasting.

Ellen Davila, Ewing High School

Ewing NJ 08618

Lesson Title: Creative Writers "Read Aloud"
Each year as part of the Creative Writing curriculum, students write and illustrate children's books to share with elementary students. Originally, the real-life application of this project involved having the high school students read their original works to elementary students in our district, but because our district doesn’t have the funds for fieldtrips and the cost of busing students to the other schools, this part of the project was cancelled. With the use of podcasting equipment, students in the creative writing class would record themselves reading their children’s book, and with the help of the students from our multimedia classes, students could scan their illustrations into the computer and create a “read aloud” of their children’s book that could be shared with students in our elementary schools. In addition, students would create podcasts about the process of creating their books, including information about the writing process and their inspiration for writing their books. Adding the “read aloud” element would also deepen students’ understanding of character development, as they will have to think about what each character’s voice should sound like and how to bring that character to life off of the page. During this part of the process, students will use the Tool Factory Clip Art Station to select music, sounds, and graphics to enhance their readings of their stories. This part of the process will also help students to think about tone, mood, and setting.

Additionally, where visiting the elementary schools would be a rewarding experience for all students involved, with the use of the podcasting equipment, elementary teachers could create a reading/listening “center” using the books as part of their daily activities in the classroom, thereby expanding their impact beyond one interaction with the high school students.

The students will use the Tool Factory tools to help themselves create their “read aloud” in the following ways:
1)Students will use the Storybook Plot Planner, Setting and Character Worksheets in their pre-writing of their children’s books as well as in the development of their “read aloud”.

2)Students will use the Storybook Dialogue Worksheet in the creation of their books and in the adaptation of their books to their “read aloud”.

3)Students will utilize the Clip Art Station to find sound clips and graphics for use in their “read aloud”.

4)Students will use the Web Page Station to host the page containing all of their read alouds and the podcasts, which will capture the process of adapting the written book into the “read aloud”.

April Imler, Sunset Elementary School

Newton KS 67114


Fifth grade students at Sunset Elementary School are great kids with energetic imaginations. . . . but with limited travel experiences. Nearly 60% of our students live in poverty and 28% are learning English. Our teachers work to introduce stories and books that expose their students to new places, new experiences, new worlds. Yet without adequate understanding of the range of wonders in our world, the literature may have little significance.

To improve students’ awareness of the world around them, the Sunset Media Center will conduct a podcast exploration of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Seven small groups of fifth graders will each be assigned the task of exploring one of the Natural Wonders of the Modern World and one of the Engineering Wonders of the Modern World.

Week One – Each group will be responsible for creating a podcast of the natural wonder of the modern world they have been assigned. Photographs and graphics from the CLIP ART FILES, facts and figures from online research, information about comparable structures, and evidence of its majesty/significance will be posted on the webpage, and each natural wonder will be visually located on a map of the world. Music that complements the setting will be downloaded from TOOL FACTORY AUDIO FILES. Each group will create and post a digital travel brochure reflecting its natural wonder.

Week Two – Each group will be responsible in the second week of creating a podcast reflecting the importance and awe of one of the man-made Wonders of the Modern World. Photographs, facts and figures, quotations and references, and student-generated travel brochures about each wonder will be included as students share their findings on the webpage and podcasts. CLIP ART/PHOTOGRAPHY FILES

When all podcasts have been posted, the entire student body at Sunset Elementary will have an opportunity to blog about each Wonder of the Modern World—share opinions, personal experiences and observations. Sunset students, parents, and teachers will be invited to vote on the most impressive Wonder of the Modern World based on student group podcasts.

During these two weeks of study in the media center, the librarian will be guiding students through the novel, 7 Wonders of Sassafrass Springs, by Betty G. Birney. Each student group, taking roles of characters from the novel, will use WORKSHEET STATION/DIALOGUE WORKSHEETS, etc. to create a podcast discussion of one of the seven local wonders discussed in the book. Attention to detail and accurate descriptions from the book will be encouraged, and each group will have the opportunity to import photographs, graphics, and music using TOOLFACTORY CLIP ART AND SOUND EFFECTS LIBRARY to strengthen their booktalk.

Upon completing the novel, the important work begins! Students will work in new groups of five to determine the Seven Wonders of Newton, Kansas. Using DIGITAL CAMERAS and MOBILE PODCASTING LAB, students will create a webpage podcast that features their local wonder, natural or manmade. Students also will use the MOBILE LAB to interview community leaders, citizens, and other students about the site the group is researching. Information about the history, significance, and importance of the group’s Wonder will be scripted and shared on the webpage. Each group will have the opportunity to create a Public Service Announcement that promotes their nominated local Wonder. A map of Newton will be created and posted on the webpage, and each nominated wonder will be identified.

When all podcasts are completed, and the webpage is in final form, a panel of community “judges”—all wearing black robes, of course!—will view the podcasts and based on the effectiveness and persuasiveness of each podcast, will render a decision as to the winners of the Seven Wonders of Newton, Kansas. Winning Wonders will be displayed on the school webpage and covered by our local newspaper, The Newton Kansan.

Read the applications of the 3 Grand Prize Winners.